Everything I Need to Know I Learned in VBS:
“Ruth – How she demonstrates the Gospel”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Through the Written Word,
And the spoken word,
May we know Your Living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Christian Teen Ruthlessly Bullied by Popular YouTuber Because She loves Jesus” – CBN News
… You’d be forgiven for never having heard of YouTuber Cinnamon Toast Ken. According to YouTube.Wikia, he’s risen to internet fame by uploading gaming videos. He has also (somehow) managed to garner over 3 million followers on Twitter, despite posting some despicable cyberbullying videos, including one mocking a teen girl because of her love for Jesus.
In one video titled, “Crazy Girl Obsessed With Jesus,” Ken relentlessly picks on Christian YouTuber Emma Mae Jenkins, mocking her appearance and scoffing at her religious convictions.
Endure the painfully unfunny 11-minute clip and you will come away wondering why anyone would subscribe to viewing such crass, insensitive and uninspired content. Despite this, however, YouTube has yet to shut it down….
~bulletin cover – Boaz: “Where is my wife” he asked ruthlessly!
What does it mean to act “ruthlessly”? What makes one’s behavior “ruthless”?
Dictionaries define it as “having or showing no mercy or pity or compassion for others; being cruel, hard-hearted, cold-blooded”, etc.
What is the opposite of “ruthless”? That’s what I have always wondered. Most of the time when something gets a “-less” suffix, “tasteless”, “witless’, “senseless”, etc. there’s an opposite from the same root word; ie., “tasteful”, “witty”, “sensible”. But what’s the opposite of “ruthless”? No dictionary contains a “ruthful”, “ruthy”, or “ruthible”; but it seems that they should! (Beth’s greetings at the door sure were “ruthful” today. Keith’s leadership in the Call to Worship was certainly “ruthy”! Wait until we go downstairs after worship, Kay has the most “ruthible” birthday celebration ever!)
So, where does the word “ruthless” come from? That’s what we’re gonna talk about today!
In our current Sermon Series we are looking at some of our favorite VBS and Sunday School lessons – stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and a few about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, and Joshua. Today we read about how the great-great grandson of that Canaanite prostitute named Rahab, who rescued the Israelite spies when Joshua was planning his attack on Jericho, came to be.
Listen to the Word of God from Ruth 1-4 (Pp. 187f)…. —-
For context – last week we read the Joshua story when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. In that story we met Rahab. The rest of Joshua tells us about the Israelites filling the land of Canaan, from east of the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, from just north of the Egyptian wilderness to the Syrian and Lebanon border.
After the book of Joshua is a 21-chapter book telling the stories of Israelite leaders they called judges, this was before they had their first king. Somewhere in the middle of those stories is this story of Ruth.
So, here’s the story where we meet Ruth. During that part of Israelite history before there was a king, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem, along with his family, left Israel and went south to Moab. The people of Moab are the descendants of Abraham’s nephew – and they became enemies of the Israelites over the centuries since Abraham. While this family, Dad and Mom and two sons, lives in Moab, both the boys get married to Moabite women one whose name is Ruth. In time the Dad dies, leaving his wife, Naomi widowed. Then both the sons also die, leaving Naomi completely alone.
After this, she receives news that the famine in Israel is over, so Naomi plans to go back to Bethlehem. Her two daughters-in-law offer to travel with her so she doesn’t have to make the journey alone. And Naomi does her best to refuse their offer, but one of them, Ruth, will not let Naomi go by herself. She tells her mother-in-law, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
So Naomi and Ruth leave Moab and arrive in Bethlehem during the harvest season of the barley fields. This is where we meet a relative of Naomi’s dead husband, the son of the Canaanite prostitute Rahab, Boaz. Boaz is a wealthy man who tells his farm hands to leave an abundance of barley in the fields so that the poor and widowed women would have a chance to glean the fields and find enough barley to take home for baking bread for their families.
One of those women is Ruth – a foreigner widow from Moab, daughter-in-law of Boaz’s relative Naomi. And Boaz, an older bachelor, falls for Ruth! He takes extra care to be super generous with the barley harvest for Ruth. And ultimately, after Naomi schemes a plan for Ruth to help Boaz fall in love, they get married.
Let’s take a brief break here. If being “ruthless” means being cold-hearted, uncaring, mean & nasty – we have just witnessed the exact opposite in Ruth’s behavior and attitude toward Naomi. What does Ruth demonstrate to Naomi? Grace and mercy, compassion and care, and ultimately, relationship and salvation.
After Boaz and Ruth are married, they have a son named Obed – a grandson to Naomi, yet another way Ruth offers Naomi life and purpose! And Obed has a son named Jesse. And one of Jesse’s sons is David, the second King of Israel – Israel’s greatest king.
1,000 years later, a virgin lass and a carpenter from Nazareth traveled from Galilee to Bethlehem where, in a manger, they gave birth to Jesus, the promised Emmanuel, Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God sent to the world because God loved the world so much, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have life everlasting!
The Ruth story begins and ends in Bethlehem. 400 years later; David’s story starts in Bethlehem; and 1,000 years after that, Jesus is born in – Bethlehem.
Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem during the Barley harvest season – grain for the bread baked in Bethlehem, “House of Bread”, which is located in the Israeli region called Ephratha, “Land of Fruitfulness”.
We are moments away from approaching the Lord’s Table – the Table of Bread and Fruit of the Vine. The Communion Table displays the ruthful truth of God’s perfect grace and mercy, the ruthible invitation to Life Eternal.
The Moabite woman Ruth demonstrates God’s grace – let’s receive that grace today!
The Moabite woman Ruth exemplifies how we who follow Christ ought to live – let’s show that mercy in every way!
Friends, God loves you, and He longs to give that love to you.
Thank You, YHWH God, for giving us the ruthy story of Naomi and Ruth and Boaz wherein Your perfect grace and mercy are displayed; for offering us the ruthful example of someone who lived like she believed what she said she believed. Thank You for the Communion Table, especially on this World Communion Sunday, which displays and invites us not Your perfect grace today, and unites us to Christ’s followers from Africa and Asia, from Europe and Oceana, from South and North America. Thank You for including us in Your World-wide family. Through Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.